In a short followup to my recent column about Debbie Reynolds’ visit to Montclair Plaza, a cute anecdote turned up that begged to be shared. Also: the author of the California wine history book “Tangled Vines” is headed to Claremont, plus more cultural news of note and a Valley Vignette, all in Wednesday’s column.
The painter and sculptor Gilbert “Magu” Lujan was featured in my “Pomona A to Z” series of columns in 2004, representing the letter M. A pioneering figure in the Chicano art movement, and in later years a resident of the Pomona Arts Colony, he died in 2011. But he’s still remembered.
Lujan’s work was the subject of a PST: LA/LA show, and across from the dA Center for the Arts in downtown Pomona, a utility box’s mural pays homage. See above. I suspect the (Grauman’s?) dragon is a reference to his most-seen work, the Hollywood-themed decor of the Hollywood and Vine Metro station. Magu’s pose is clearly based on the portrait by my colleague Will Lester for my column about him, which is included in my “Pomona A to Z” book. If the artist’s name turns up, I’ll credit him/her.
Update: Antonio Mejia is the name of the painter. Thanks to Chris Toovey for the credit.
I went to Ontario’s council meeting Tuesday and found some humor, including a proposal for sleeping pods. It got deep-sixed. The tale is told leisurely in Sunday’s column.
Did you know Cal Poly Pomona has two student mariachi groups? Mariachi Los Broncos and Mariachi Los Cabelleros learn the artform in class and perform around campus and the community. I sit in on a rehearsal before concerts this weekend in Claremont and Pomona for Friday’s column.
Nuno’s Bistro, 2440 W. Arrow Route (at Monte Vista), Upland; open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday
Nuno’s is Claremont-adjacent, and probably considered Claremont by most who visit and Montclair by many of the rest; it’s in the College Park center that also has a Legends, Bakers, Juancho’s and Noodle World Jr.
Nuno’s is an offshoot of the definitely-Claremont Euro Cafe up on Base Line, which specializes in Portuguese food. Nuno’s, run by the family’s son, is a more elegant version with table service. Pronunciation note: There’s no tilde in the name, which should be pronounced “noo-nose.”
I’d seen it and heard good things, but on my occasional cheap, solo dinners in the center, I would look in at the dimly lighted Nuno’s, see couples and groups drinking wine and being convivial, and decide it was not for the likes of me. A convivial friend who’s been there a few times with his wife said my sense of the scene was accurate. But he and I recently met up there for lunch, which is more my speed.
It’s a modernist space, all high ceilings, bare floors and art on the walls, with a three-sided bar and light pouring in during the day. The menu, which doesn’t seem to be on the Nuno’s website no matter how many times you click on the “menu” tab, has a sort of generalized European fare, with breakfast, tapas, pizzas, salads and sandwiches. Lunch specials range from $25 to $36, so prepare yourself accordingly.
But there is lower-priced fare for the wage-slave budget. I had the crepe marieke ($11), with crimini mushrooms, spinach and cheese inside a buckwheat crepe, a fried egg on top and truffle oil drizzle. I liked how it sounded and liked how it tasted. This came with a side of fruit: grapes, strawberries, blackberries and melon, a refreshing accompaniment.
My friend had the BLAT ($14), with applewood-smoked bacon, tomato relish and levain bread, not to mention L and A. He liked it, singling out the “hot snap” of the piri piri aioli. (“Piri piri aioli” is so fun to type I’m doing it again.)
Of the dinners, he said he’s liked the patatas bravas, thought the charcuterie was OK and didn’t like the paella.
Let me note, too, that the service was of the friendly but low-key quality one rarely encounters in these parts.
I’m glad I gave Nuno’s a try. It’s one of the better local restaurants. And lunch is relaxed enough that your casual, low-budget and not so convivial columnist may return.
They’ve been serving up German food at Upland German Deli since 1977. And the owner loves kidding her customers — although she’s so straight-faced, sometimes they don’t know it. (Ask for a to-go box and see what happens.) I’ve been meaning to introduce myself to the owners and interview them ever since I got back from Germany last August. Last week I finally got around to it, a story that is told in Wednesday’s column.
It’s had a quiet rollout, but a new city law in Montclair is bound to start getting attention. Pedestrians can no longer legally use their phone or cover both ears while crossing the street. Montclair may be the first such city in the continental United States to pass such a law. Check out Sunday’s column for the details.
Myrlie Evers and James Lawson are coming to Bridges Auditorium to speak. I tell you about that, and them, as well as present eight Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette, all in Friday’s column.
El Patron II, 1524 Foothill Blvd. (at Wheeler), La Verne; open daily except Monday
A reader told me a year ago to try out El Patron II. This led me to find El Patron (I) in Rancho Cucamonga, which is a couple of miles from our office and has become a favorite. Once I arranged to meet a friend at El Patron II for lunch and, of all the luck, we picked the day it’s closed.
But on a night last month, craving Mexican food, I remembered El Patron II and went there for dinner.
It’s a storefront in the Vons center. Like RC, it’s sitdown, although they were doing a lot of takeout, and the menu looked about the same. I’d describe the food as homestyle Mexican cooking: nothing fancy, but good versions of the staples, with an emphasis more on plates than on simply a la carte items, although they have those too. And they fresh-fry their hard tacos, which are worth trying.
I got the chile verde plate ($10), which I hadn’t had before. What came were impressive hunk of tender pork in a slightly spicy green sauce, with rice, refried beans and corn (or flour) tortillas. Delicious, and I took some home. And yes, there were complimentary fresh chips and salsa.
Another thing similar to RC: the exceedingly attentive and helpful service. It must be a thing they emphasize, and it’s appreciated. They don’t rush you, they check on you a few times and when I asked for a to-go box, the server also refilled my iced tea.
It’s nice to have an El Patron not far from where I live and another one not far from where I work. You may not be so lucky.
In 1970, Debbie Reynolds cut the ribbon at the shoe store owned by her then-husband in Montclair Plaza, Karl’s Shoes. Some people remember the day, and one had his photo taken with her. I tell the story in Wednesday’s column. Above, the advertisement from the Daily Report.